Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Saint December 24 : St. Charbel of Lebanon a Mystic and Hermit who Loved the Eucharist

St. Charbel Makhlouf

May 8, 1828, Bekaa Kafra (North Lebanon)
December 24, 1898
October 9, 1977 by Pope Paul VI

 Youssef Antoun Makhluf was born on May 8, 1828, one of five children born to Antoun Zaarour Makhlouf and Brigitta Chidiac. They lived in the village of Bekaa Kafra. He became a Maronite monk at Annaya Abbey at the age of twenty. As a monk and took the name Charbel, after a Christian martyr in Antioch from the 2nd century. He was even renowned among his Islamic neighbors. He possessed miraculous abilities and loved the Holy Eucharist. Charbel died in 1898. He was beatified in 1965 and canonized in 1977 by Pope Paul VI (r. 1963-1978).
Novena to St. Charbel : Miracle Prayer to the Wonderworker -

Pope Francis says "Christmas is the feast of Love incarnate, of love born for us in Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the light of mankind shining in the darkness..." FULL TEXT + Video


Library of the Apostolic Palace
Wednesday, 23 December 2020


Catechesis on Christmas

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

In this catechesis, as we approach Christmas, I would like to offer some food for thought in preparation for the celebration of Christmas. In the Midnight Mass liturgy the Angel’s proclamation to the Shepherds: “Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a  great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord” (Lk 2:10-12).

In imitation of the shepherds, we too move spiritually towards Bethlehem, where Mary gave birth to the Child in a stable, “because there was no place for them in the inn” (2:7).  

 Christmas has become a universal feast, and even those who do not believe perceive the appeal of this occasion.


 The Christian, however, knows that Christmas is a decisive event, an eternal fire that God has kindled in the world, and must not be confused with ephemeral things. It is important that it should not be reduced to a merely sentimental or consumerist festival. Last Sunday I drew attention to this problem, underscoring that consumerism has hijacked Christmas. No: Christmas must not be reduced to a merely sentimental or consumerist feast, full of gifts and good wishes but poor in Christian faith, and also poor in humanity.  

Therefore, it is necessary to curb a certain worldly mentality, incapable of grasping the incandescent core of our faith, which is this: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father” (Jn 1:14). And this is the kernel of Christmas; rather, it is the truth of Christmas, there is no other.

Christmas invites us to reflect, on the one hand, on the drama of history, in which men and women, wounded by sin, ceaselessly search for truth, the search for mercy, and the search for redemption; and, on the other hand, on the goodness of God, who has come towards us to communicate to us the Truth that saves and to make us sharers in His friendship and His life. And this gift of life: this is pure grace, not by any merit of our own. There is a Holy Father who says: “But look there, over there, there: seek your merit and you will find nothing other than grace”. Everything is grace, a gift of grace. And this gift of grace, we receive it through the simplicity and humanity of Christmas, and it can remove from our hearts and minds the pessimism that has spread even more nowadays as a result of the pandemic. We can overcome that sense of disquieting bewilderment, not letting ourselves be overwhelmed by defeats and failures, in the rediscovered awareness that that humble and poor Child, hidden  away and helpless, is God Himself, made man for us. The Second Vatican Council, in a famous passage from the Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, tells us that this event concerns every one of us: “For by His incarnation the Son of God has united Himself in some fashion with every man. He worked with human hands, He thought with a human heart, acted by human choice and loved with a human heart. Born of the Virgin Mary, He has truly been made one of us, like us in all things except sin” (Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes, 22). But Jesus was born two thousand years ago, what does this have to do with me? It affects you, and me, each one of us. Jesus is one of us: God, in Jesus, is one of us.

This reality gives us much joy and courage. God did not look down on us, from afar, He did not pass us by, He was not repulsed by our misery, He did not clothe Himself only superficially in a body, but rather He fully assumed our nature and our human condition. He left nothing out except sin: the only thing He does not have. All humanity is in Him. He took all that we are, just as we are. This is essential for understanding the Christian faith. St. Augustine, reflecting on his journey of conversion, writes in his Confessions: “For I did not hold to my Lord Jesus Christ, I, humbled, to the Humble; nor knew I yet whereto His infirmity would guide us” (Confessions VII, 8). And what is Jesus’ “infirmity”? The “infirmity” of Jesus is a “teaching”! Because it reveals to us the love of God. Christmas is the feast of Love incarnate, of love born for us in Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the light of mankind shining in the darkness, giving meaning to human existence and to the whole of history.

Dear brothers and sisters, may these brief reflections help us to celebrate Christmas with greater awareness. But there is another way to prepare, which I want to remind you and me, and which is within everyone’s reach: to contemplate a little, in silence, before the crib. The Nativity display is a catechesis of this reality, of what was done that year, that day, that we have heard in the Gospel. Therefore last year I wrote a Letter, which it would be good for us to pick up again. It is entitled “Admirabile signum”, “Enchanting image”. In the school of St. Francis of Assisi, we can become a little childlike by pausing to contemplate the scene of the Nativity, and by letting the wonder of the “marvellous” way in which God wanted to come into the world be reborn in us. Let us ask for the grace of wonder: before this mystery, a reality so tender, so beautiful, so close to our hearts, that the Lord may give us the grace of wonder, to encounter Him, to draw closer to Him, to draw closer to us all. This will revive tenderness in us. The other day, while I was speaking with some scientists, we spoke about artificial intelligence and robots… there are robots programmed for everyone and everything, and this continues to advance. And I said to them, “But what will robots never be able to do?” They thought about it, they made suggestions, but in the end they were all in agreement about one thing: tenderness. Robots will never be capable of this. And this is what God brings us, today: a wonderful way in which God wanted to come into the world, and this revives tenderness in us, the human tenderness close to that of God. And today we are in great need of tenderness, we in in great need of a human touch, in the face of so much misery! If the pandemic has forced us to be more distant, Jesus, in the crib, shows us the way of tenderness to be close to each other, to be human. Let us follow this path. Merry Christmas!

Special Greetings

I cordially greet the English-speaking faithful. In these last days before Christmas, I invoke upon you and your families the joy and peace of the Lord Jesus. God bless you!

RIP to Bishop Rubén Tierrablanca - Death of Roman Catholic Bishop from COVID-19 - Apostolic Vicar of Istanbul, Turkey

 ASIA/TURKEY - Farewell to Bishop Rubén Tierrablanca, beloved pastor and man of fraternal charity

Wednesday, 23 December 2020

Istanbul (Agenzia Fides) - His Exc. Bishop Rubén Tierrablanca Gonzàlez OFM, Apostolic Vicar of Istanbul for Latin Rite Catholics, did not survive Covid-19 against which he had been fighting for the past few weeks in an intensive care unit. The Bishop passed away on the evening of Tuesday 22 December, at the age of 68, saddening all those whom he had comforted in the course of his life thanks to the gift of his simple faith and his charity always ready to help the most needy.

Originally from Mexico, born in Cortazar on August 24, 1952, he entered the novitiate of the Friars Minor in 1970. After his years of formation, he made the solemn vows in 1977 and received priestly ordination the following year. During his years in Rome, he had also been Rector of the Antonianum University from 1992 to 1997 and then guardian of the Franciscan General Curia from 1997 to 2003.

Starting from that year he was sent to Turkey, where he served as guardian of the convent of Istanbul and of the International Fraternity for Ecumenical and Interreligious Dialogue in Turkey and as parish priest of Santa Maria Draperis parish. On April 16, 2016, Pope Francis appointed him Apostolic Vicar of Istanbul. Since 2018 he was President of the Bishops' Conference of Turkey.

Ordained bishop, he had chosen "Unum in Cristo" as his episcopal motto, also signifying his dedication to promoting unity among Christians: "His pastoral style", Dominican father Claudio Monge tells Agenzia Fides, "was characterized by closeness and good-natured patience. He weaved relationships step by step, in the fabric of daily life, and always supported the occasions of common prayer with Christians of other Churches that I too have tried to promote in recent years here in Istanbul".

Bishop Tierrablanca maintained relations of friendship and spiritual closeness with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and also with the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople and with the Metropolitan of the Orthodox Syrians. He also cultivated fraternal relationships with Muslims and Jews, always showing respect for civil authorities. His charitable initiatives were known, also through Caritas Istanbul, aimed at all the needy without distinction of ethnic or religious affiliation, which had intensified in recent months, with the distribution of food vouchers and the offer of residential services in the face of the emergency caused by the pandemic which had further worsened the living conditions of many immigrants and homeless in the Turkish metropolis. "Where he was present, the door was always open to everyone", one of his friends told Fides. While Capuchin friar Domenico Bertogli, parish priest in Antioch on the Orontes, remembers him as "a true man of peace and harmony, an authentic Franciscan". (GV) (Source: Agenzia Fides, 23/12/2020)

Wow LISTEN as Musical Group of Siblings "Harpa Dei" Sings Beautiful Ancient "Rorate Caeli" Chant

The Harpa Dei Choir is made up of four siblings, both in blood and in spirit: Nikolai, Lucia, Marie-Elisée and Mirjana Gerstner. 
Born in Germany, they grew up in Ecuador, in South America. 
 All four have as their spiritual foundation the long formation they have received in a religious community of Catholics. 
 Since 2011, as part of a peace initiative, the siblings have been called to evangelization through Sacred Music.
In this video they sing the "Rorate caeli" or "Rorate coeli" 'Drop down, ye heavens')are the opening words of Isaiah 45:8 in the Bible. The text appears at several points in the Christian liturgy during Advent.  

The text is used frequently both at Mass and in the Divine Office during Advent, as it gives exquisite poetical expression to the longings of Patriarchs and Prophets, and symbolically of the Church, for the coming of the Messias. Throughout Advent it occurs daily as the versicle and response at Vespers. For this purpose the verse is divided into the versicle, "Rorate coeli desuper et nubes pluant justum" (Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the just), and the response: "Aperiatur terra et germinet salvatorem" (Let the earth be opened and send forth a Saviour").

Traditional Christmas Novena Prayers : Official from Raccolta with Plenary Indulgence - 7

A novena is a prayer said over 9 days. 
See links below for the full prayers for the nine days.
It can be said 9 days before or for 9 days after Christmas. (or anytime during the Christmas Season)
This is the Day 7 prayer (Days 1-9 are linked below)
Opening Prayer:
V. O God, come to my assistance.

R. O Lord, make haste to help me.

Glory be to the Father and to
the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now
and ever shall be, world without

Our Father, Who art in heaven
Hallowed be Thy Name;
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil. Amen.

Day 7 Prayers

The Presentation
O most sweet infant Jesus, presented in the temple
by the Virgin Mary, embraced by Simeon, and revealed
to the Jews by Anna the prophetess. 

Have mercy on us.
Have mercy on us, 0 Lord. Have mercy on us.
Hail Mary...

Day 1:
Day 2:
Day 3:
Day 4:
Day 5:
Day 6:
Day 7:
Day 8:
Day 9: 

NOVENA PREPARATORY TO CHRISTMAS In order to the devout preparation of ourselves for the glorious Birthday of our most loving Saviour, Jesus Christ, which the holy Church recalls to our memory every year on the 25th of December, and at the same time to render Him thanks for this great benefit, Pope Pius VII., by a Rescript of the Segretaria of the Memorials, dated August 12th, 1815 (which said Rescript is preserved in the Segretaria of the Vicariate), granted to all faithful Christians who, being contrite in heart, should prepare themselves for that great solemnity by a novena, consisting of pious exercises, prayers, acts of virtue, &c. -
i. An indulgence of 300 days each day of the said novena, and -
ii. A plenary indulgence to be gained on Christmas day, or on some day in its octave, by those who, after Confession and Communion, shall have made the said novena every day, and who shall pray according to the intentions of the Sovereigns Pontiff: and note that the Confession and Communion may be made on any one of the days of the said novena, provided the novena is correctly kept. This was declared by Pope Pius VIII., of holy memory, by means of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, July 9, 1830. These indulgences were extended by the above-named Pius VII. to one other time in the year, besides the the specified, when any one should make the aforesaid novena in honour of the Child Jesus.